WildSafeBC community coordinator Danica Roussy says that there have been numerous reports of grizzly bear-human conflicts over the past week, including a grizzly bear getting into and destroying livestock near Wycliffe.
Reports have also come from Hidden Valley Road, Gold Creek and out by Eager Hill.
“Community members can help reduce conflicts with grizzly bears by securing attractants and preventing them from becoming food-conditioned in the first place,” Roussy said.
“Livestock, garbage, and fruit trees are the most reported attractants to the Conservation Officer Service with regards to grizzly bears. However, anything that provides a food rewards or that has a strong and appealing smell to a bear, can draw grizzly bears into community.”
READ MORE: WildSafeBC: How to avoid bear encounters
Roussy said that grizzly bear responsible for destroying livestock has likely become habituated to humans after associating food rewards with human activity.
“Like the reports this week, this can lead to destruction of property as bears try to gain access to food, injuries, or death to pets and livestock and increased potential for vehicle collisions,” Roussy said.
As we are in a place where we share the landscape with animals like bears, it’s natural that they will be in our living spaces from time to time, WildSafe says. As long as they are moving through the community, for example on their way to a natural food source such as a fish-bearing spring, they are not usually a problem.
It’s only after they start to use the community as a foraging area for human-provided foods that conflicts start to occur.
After bears start associating humans with food, they can lose their natural wariness of humans and become habituated.
”A habituated bear tolerates humans in much closer proximity than what is safe for both bears and humans,” Roussy explained. “This increases the potential for a dangerous interaction between the bears and us.”
Putting up electric fencing is another way WildSafeBC suggests to reduce human-grizzly conflicts, though they only should be used if the attractant the fence is protecting can’t be effectively dealt with in another way. For example, if garbage cane be removed from an area, an electric fence isn’t necessary.
“Electric fencing is a safe and effective way to protect your livestock, fruit trees and apiaries from wildlife,” WildSafe said in a press release. “The money spent on an electric fence will not only protect your investment, it will also give you peace of mind. In addition, you will help prevent the needless destruction of wildlife such as bears.”
If you are living in the Columbia Basin area and are experiencing conflicts with grizzlies, WildSafeBC says there’s a chance you could be eligible to qualify for a cost-share program, which would provide reimbursement of electric fencing materials that have been pre-approved by a local WildSafeBC coordinator, and under a certain amount.
If you are interested in installing electric materials to keep bears out, but lack the financial means to do so, you can contact the Grizzly Bear Coexistence Solutions coordinator Gillian Sanders at 250-353-1137 or firstname.lastname@example.org
“Grizzly Bear Coexistence Solutions (GBCS) can provide free advice for electric fencing for bears to deter bears from chicken coops, beehives, fruit trees, small livestock pens, and other attractants throughout the Columbia Basin,” Sanders said. “In areas of grizzly bear activity and conflicts, GBCS can provide a limited cost share on the cost of electric fencing materials.”
Roussy adds that not everyone will qualify. The funds are limited and available only in select communities on a first-come-first-serve basis. You can learn more at https://wildsafebc.com/learn/electric-fencing/
An as always, if you experience any human-bear conflicts contact the Conservation Officer Service RAPP line at 1-877-952-7277.